The radial artery (Latin: arteria radialis) is one of the major blood vessels in the forearm. It is one of the terminal branches of the brachial artery, arising from its bifurcation on the anterior aspect of the elbow. The other terminal branch is the ulnar artery, which is the largest of the two.
This blood vessel travels down the lateral (or radial) aspect of the forearm, reaching the wrist where it branches into smaller branches to supply the hand.
The pulse of the radial artery is palpable at the wrist, which is used routinely to determine the heart rate.
The radial artery arises from the bifurcation of the brachial artery (a continuation of the axillary artery) at the lower portion of the cubital fossa. However, it appears to be the continuation of the brachial artery, although it is smaller than the ulnar artery, which is the second branch arising from the bifurcation.
In the forearm, the radial artery travels down from the medial side of the neck of the radius to reach the styloid process of the anterior side of the radius. Proximally, the radial artery is situated deep to the brachioradialis muscle, while distally, it is covered only by a fascia and the skin. Therefore it is possible to palpate the pulse when the artery is pressed against the bone. In the forearm, the artery runs along two radial veins and the superficial branch of the radial nerve.
The artery reaches the styloid process of the radius and passes to the dorsal side of the wrist, where it lies in the “anatomical snuff box” that is limited by the tendons of abductor pollicis longus and extensor pollicis brevis muscles from the one side and the tendon of the extensor pollicis longus from the other side. The radial artery penetrates the first interosseous space between the first and second metacarpal bone and the dorsal interosseous muscle here, reaching the palmar side of the hand.
Many branches arise from the radial artery - in the forearm, wrist, and hand, including the following:
The radial artery terminates on the palmar side of the hand as the deep palmar arch and forms anastomosis with the deep palmar branch of the ulnar artery.